Last Saturday, July 28th, Lynn and I hosted a tasting of Merlot wines (see below). After the tasting, a bunch of additional wines, including whites and rosés were opened go with the appetizers. The temperature outside was 105 degrees and chilled rosés were the refreshment of choice. After the appetizers, some of us went outside for cigars, and guess what rosé was still the beverage of choice. Sparkling Rosé and Tavel Rosé were the ones that hit the spot.
But you know what else? Rosés are not just for summer. They are versatile and interesting wines that can go with a lot of things. And the range of styles is amazing, ranging in color from pale (such as Bandol) to deep pink (as in Tavel) and in complexity from delicately exquisite to full and vigorous. Lynn and I have tried over 50 Rosés from around the world and most of them have been very enjoyable. They're great wines with food and with enjoyable conversation.
Where to Buy Rosé Wines
Rosé wine is not a mainstream product like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. To appreciate Rosé wine requires a significant degree of sophistication. The fine Rosés are a far cry from White Zinfandel. In Walla Walla, The Thief Wine & Beer has an admirable collection from around the world (see below). Esquin Wine & Spirits in Seattle has a bevy of Rosés from Provence and Southern France as well as ones from Washington and Oregon. And Safeway has the best selection of supermarkets, including ones from the Côtes de Provence.
More Rosés Recently Tasted
2017 Mansion Creek Cellars Rosado, Columbia Valley ($26) - Just released, this is a Spanish style blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Touriga Nacional. Brilliant light copper-pink colored, this possesses a brilliant copper-pink color and aromas of raspberry, cherry, pomegranate, orange peel, cherry blossoms, lavender and spiced incense (from the Mourvèdre). The flavors are pleasingly light and sprightly, with notes of grape skin, pomegranate seeds and recurring orange peel, followed by a dry finish that is lifted by bright fruit acids. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Bieler Pere & Fils "Sabine" Aix en Provence Rosé ($11.99 - Safeway) - Light pink colored, this possesses attractive aromas of raspberry, cherry, watermelon, tangerine, lavender and white incense. The flavors are lightly extracted and with notes of framboise, orange peel and melon rind, followed by a crisp, dry finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Domaine Sorin "Terra Amata" Côtes de Provence Rosé ($11.99 - Safeway) - This shows a copper tinged pink color and enticing aromas of strawberry, cherry, currant, cherry blossoms, pink lilac and white incense. The flavors brisk and lively, with fraise and cerise liqueurs on the back, followed by a finely fruited dry finish. 18+/20 points.
The following six wines were purchased at the Thief Wine & Beer shop on Main Street in Walla Walla.
2017 Pico Maccario "Lavignone" Piemonte Rosato ($19) - Produced from the Barbera grape, this shows a brilliant pink-copper color and enticing aromas of cherry and red currant with scents of rose petals, cherry blossoms and incense. The flavors are fresh and lively, with notes of raspberry and cherry liqueurs, orange peel and saline minerals, followed by a slightly tart dry finish. Great value. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Loimer Rosé vom Zweigelt / Pinot Noir, Niederösterreich ($19) - Zweigelt is a crossing of St. Laurent and Blaufranckich and this one is blended with 20% Pinot Noir. Niederösterreich is Lower (i.e. downriver) Austria. This wine shows a brilliant pink color and a floral nose of wild strawberries, cherries and red currants with scents of cherry blossoms and wildflowers. The flavors are nicely extracted with bright fruits and a crisp, lively finish. A charming low alcohol (11.5%) Rosé, not highly complex but pleasing, which gives it a plus. 18+/20 points.
2017 Jurtschitsch Rosé vom Zweigelt, Langenlois ($25) - From Northern Austria, this version shows an iridescent pink color and an intriguing nose of strawberry, cherry, rhubarb and red currant, with scents of pink roses, orange blossoms, jasmine and white incense. The flavors are exquisitely wrought and lightly extracted, with fraise and cerise liqueurs and orange peel prefacing a dry, faintly puckery finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Finca Jakue Getariako Txakolina Rose ($25) - Getariako Txkolina is located in the Basque Province of Spain. This is produced from the indigenous Hondarrabi Zuri white grape, blended with a bit of red Hondarrabi Belta. It shows a brilliant copper color and intriguing aromas of cherry, pomegranate, pink peach, cherry blossoms, pink lilac, lavender, orange peel and Basque herbs. The flavors, as well, are striking, with a slight fizziness which enlivens the wine, accented by notes of tart cherries, dried pomegranate seeds and recurring orange peel. Low alcohol (11.5%) makes it quaffable. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Domaine Collotte Marsannay Rosé ($22) - This comes from the North end of Burgundy's Côte de Nuits and is made from Pinot Noir. It shows a pretty pink-salmon color and enticing aromas of strawberries, cherries and red currants with scents of cherry blossoms, wildflowers, pink lilac and white incense. The flavors, as well, are appealing with vibrant red fruit flavors that are imbued with red licorice, orange peel, kirsch and creme de cassis, followed by a deliciously fruited yet dry finish. The balance gives it a plus. 18.5+/20 points.
2017 Chateau de la Bonnelière "Rive Gauche" Chinon Rosè ($17) - Produced from Cabernet Franc, this Loire Rosé is made in a light, fresh style, it sports a light pink-salmon color and floral aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, cherry. pink lilac and whiffs of white pepper and incense. The flavors are deft and dry, taffeta textured, comprised of freshly squeezed red fruit juices, followed by a bit of dried currants and cherries on the finish. 18/20 points.
Lynn's Three Star Rosés
My wife, Lynn, has a simple but highly useful system of rating wines. She gives one star to very good wines, two stars to excellent ones, and three stars to outstanding ones. Here is a list of the Rosés we have tasted that scored three stars. The are listed in reverse order of tasting, with the most recent ones first.
2017 Picco Maccario Piemonte Rosato ($19) - See above.
2017 Domaine Collotte Marsannay Rosé ($22) - See above.
2017 Domaine Sorin Côtes de Provence Rosé ($11.99 - Safeway) - See above
2017 Caves d'Esclans "Whispering Angel" Cotes de Provence Rosé ($24.99 - Safeway) - 10 July Blog (scroll down to see)
2017 Fleur de Mer Côtes de Provence Rosé ($17.99 - Safeway) - 10 July. Great value.
2017 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rosé ($29.99 - wine.com) - 10 July. Bandol produces some of Provence's best Rosés.
2017 Rôtie Cellars Rosé, Washington State ($22) Review August issue - recently retasted, scoring 19/20 points up from 18.5+/20. This is the most Bandol-like Washington Rosé tasted.
2017 Château de Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé ($17.99 - wine.com) - 10 July. Beautiful color and flavors.
2017 College Cellars Rosé of Grenache, Columbia Valley ($20) - June Review. This is a delightful slightly effervescent Rosé.
2017 Minuty Côtes de Provence Rosé Rose ($12.99 - Safeway) - 10 July. Terrific value.
2017 Aluvé Rose of Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley ($22) - May issue. Now sold out.
The PAWS Merlot Tasting
This was an interesting and educational tasting by the PAWS (Perfectly Aged Wine Sippers), a seniors wine tasting group on July 28 (see first paragraph above). There were six Merlots, poured blind, three from Washington, one from California and two from Bordeaux. Participants were asked to guess where each wine was. No taster got all the wines right. Most got half of them right. Two got four out of six (66%) right, Philippe Michel (METIS Consulting) and I. This went to prove that even the wine industry "experts" can be wrong. My tasting notes and scores below
2015 Château Bellevue, Saint Emilion Grand Cru ($59.99 - Total Wine) - This showed a semi opaque ruby-garnet color and a rich, smoky nose of raspberry, plum, black currant, tobacco and smoldering incense. The flavors were bold, powerful and multi layered with a long, sweetish, minerally finish. I correctly identified it as a Bordeaux - Saint Emilion. 19/20 points.
2015 Otis Kenyon Merlot, Walla Walla Valley ($39) - Ruby-garnet colored, this possessed a rich nose of Boysenberry, cherry and plum, with scents of roses, tobacco, orange peel and incense. The flavors were supple and minerally, with lanolin ("legs") and moderate tannins and bright acids. Coming on as a typical Walla Walla Valley Merlot, I correctly identified is as a Washington Merlot. A full review will be in the September issue of the Review of Washington Wines. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Château La Pointe, Pomerol ($54.99 - Total Wine) - Philippe and I got this one wrong. With a ruby color and medium bodied raspberry, cherry and plum flavors and aromas and moderate tannins. it came on more like a Washington Merlot than a Bordeaux. 18.5+/20 points.
2014 Gundlach-Bundschu Merlot, Sonoma Valley ($21.99 - Total Wine) - This showed a deep ruby color and aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, tobacco, orange peel, with full and generous flavors and ripe tannins. With the earmarks of a Sonoma Merlot, I correctly identified it as being from California. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Pepper Bridge Merlot, Walla Walla Valley ($50) - This was far and away the top wine of the tasting. Deep ruby colored, it possessed sultry aromas of raspberry, cherry plum, tobacco and cedar with brightly, elegantly fruited medium full bodied flavors and a long, complex finish. Philippe and I correctly guessed an architypical Walla Walla Merlot (along with Leonetti). Reviewed in the August issue. 19.5/20 points.
2015 Revelry Reserve Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard. ($42) - Ruby garnet colored, this showed a sultry nose of raspberries, cherries, plums, truffles, roses and incense. The flavors were comprised of roasted berries and nuts, toffee, graphite and plum preserves, followed by a long, supple minerally finish. Philippe and I got this wrong. What threw us off was the truffles and distinct ferruginous minerality (traits of Pomerol) of this wine. To be reviewed in the September issue. 19+/20 points.
This tasting was a great educational experience. All the participants appreciated the wines and are loyal Merlot fans, unlike Sideways' Miles.